The transformation of everything – how technology changes the way we think

“The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within 10 years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. … I’m fully confident that copyright…will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing.”
David Bowie, 2002.

The effect of the information era in the way that it has on society has ever changed the way that we think of various facets of life, relationships, work and the law. When information is available freely available within society, such as on the internet, it can have effects on how we use other material, including illegal ways such as piracy, as well as using information against someone or an organisation. The effect of online piracy has allowed for society to rethink the way that we deal with intellectual property and copyright. Not only that the effect of the freedom if information has also effected how society has become more responsive to bullying. This essay looks at the implications of online piracy and cyber bullying and its recent effects on society.

The effect of piracy online has been perceived to be quite damaging to the industries that they effect, due to the fact that money that should be given to the developers or artists are instead given to the piracy business. Not only that it changes the perception of society that everything created should be free, in the public domain. In the field of software for example, the economic effect of software piracy can be damaging. (Huygen, A., Helberger, N., Poort, J., Rutten, P., Eijk, N.V., (2009) Ups and Downs; Economic and Cultural Effects of File Sharing on Music, Film and Games) However, the response from the software industry to piracy can be very helpful to understanding the role of Intellectual Property in during the information era.  Many software businesses have turned to creating a new business model and rejecting the old model. Valve, a gaming business, has been successful in the launch of their gaming store and social network, Steam. This has seen to be the one of the major forces within the gaming software industry, with Steam now taking 51% of the gaming market share alone. The reason why it is so successful is due to the fact that the way that market themselves to be pro gamer in the form of proving good quality games, but also providing a cheaper cost to their games (usually due to the fact that they have removed costs from the traditional model) and having sales to bring in more revenue. This also has the effect that software piracy for their games are significantly lower. In this case, software piracy has allowed for the software industry to build on a new business model.

Online Music Piracy, with an early example shown with Napster, has had a different effect on the music industry. The music industry has responded to piracy with using legal action to continue using their business model, instead of embracing a new business model, such as what Valve did. This is in spite that the data that is provided by the industry does not make economic sense, according to Rob Reid, creator of the music streaming service Rhapsody. In a speech given at the 2012 TED conference, Reid shows that the data provided by the music industry regarding the amount of lost revenue and jobs to piracy does not measure to the actual revenue and jobs lost by the music industry. In reality, we do not really know what the effect that online music piracy has had financially, but we can see that it has had a cultural impact on society. In the Netherlands for example, a survey found that file-sharers would pay for a CD at 40% of the average price of a CD. Unfortunately, the way that the internet has been designed, for a file to be infinitely copyable, it can be difficult to keep the current nature of intellectual property and copyright intact. The use of just using the legal system instead of engaging with society has created somewhat of a dissonance between the the internet community, and the music industry.

I believe a better solution to the issue of intellectual property and copyright is for the industries to do two things. The first is to create a new business model to allow for the changes that the information era has made to society. The second understand the reason why copyright and other intellectual property laws were created in the first place. Kirby Ferguson web series ‘Everything is a Remix’ explains in his final episode that the original copyright act was subtitled “An Act for the encouragement of Learning,” however, the role of copyright has not used in this way in society. I believe going back to the original version and meaning of copyright will help with creativity as well as helping with the economics of the music and software industry.

Although the effect of online piracy has been a major issue during the information era, cyber-bullying and gossiping has also been a major issue during the information era. Stories of bosses firing their staff over things said over social networks such as facebook and twitter are becoming more and more common in society. We can also see more damaging effects of cyber-bullying in the psychological abuse that Charlotte Dawson got from twitter ‘trolls’ in the past month, it is easy to see the effect of the problem and disadvantages of using social networking sites. The problem is that when we receive that type of abuse, our instinct is to attack the person hurling the abuse, instead of reporting it. Recent attacks at ‘trolls’ and cyber bullies by the media have been ineffective due to the nature of the attacks, as well as not using more common systems around, such as reporting the abuse. Until such responses, the form of this abuse will still be around in full force.

With recent reactions to the way that we live in todays society, it can be clear that we now living in the information era. This also means that we need to react to issues regarding the information era, such as piracy and cyber bullying. We need to rethink the way that we use intellectual property and copyright, as well as the way that we use online networks. The conclusions to how we deal with these issues will effect the way that we act in todays society.

This was the second of two essay for a University unit about the effect social networks have on society. This essay had us engage with various case studies which are not referenced here.

One thought on “The transformation of everything – how technology changes the way we think

  1. David Bowie, 21st-Century Entrepreneur, The New York Times
    Rob Reid, The 8 Billion dollar iPod [Video]
    Kirby Ferguson, Everything is a Remix Part 4 [Video]
    The Numbers Behind Steam Success,
    The problem with stopping the trolls
    Huygen, A., Helberger, N., Poort, J., Rutten, P., Eijk, N.V., (2009) Ups and Downs; Economic and Cultural Effects of File Sharing on Music, Film and Games

What do you think?